When it comes to predicting employee happiness and productivity there’s nothing more important finding a complementary culture. In fast-moving, competitive fields like IT, it can be crucial in connecting with top talent. Today’s employees have more choice in workplaces than ever before. With so many options laid before them, cultural fit is often a deciding factor in where they choose to work.
A recent analysis of 200 workplace studies determined there was a strong correlation between a good cultural fit and a positive work experience. The analysis found that cultural fit was more important in predicting an employee’s commitment to their employer than any other factor, including skill, talent or experience.
the benefits of finding the right cultural fit
- Higher job satisfaction
- Employees are more invested in the company
- Stronger employee retention
- Superior job performance
what is a good cultural fit?
But what does a good cultural fit consist of and how can you integrate it into your hiring practices?
First off, let us preface by saying that a good ‘cultural fit’ does not consist of an environment where everyone agrees all the time and employees are carbon copies of one another. Employees don’t have to share a single personality type, attitude, background and way of thinking to work well together. Let’s face it: no one wants to work in a robotic environment where everyone could pass as clones. That’s why personality testing and software used to identify top performers and ‘best fit’ employees can sometimes be misleading or ineffective.
Research confirms that workplaces that favour diverse opinions and personalities are more likely to innovative and financially successful. Think about it: the biggest visionaries of our time are people who think against the grain. Steve Jobs. Thomas Edison. Henry Ford. Elon Musk. People who are willing to push boundaries and challenge commonly held beliefs are the ones who drive real change. This is equally true in the workplace.
When it comes down to it, what cultural fit means is different for everyone. Some employees will value innovation, others stability. Some will value a top-of-heap pay cheque, others work they love. The goal is to ensure the values, priorities, management style, and office culture of employees and employers mesh. That might sound pretty vague, but cultural fit is a shifting, changing, indefinable thing.
There’s no neat list of boxes that must be checked off to determine that yes, this person is a good fit. Because it is so vague, finding the right cultural fit is often based on the intuition of hiring managers and job seekers. But the advantages of getting it right are undeniable and have been repeatedly validated through studies.
creating a hiring process that prioritizes cultural fit
Every company has a culture. From a 5 person startup to a multi-national corporation that’s 100,000 employees strong, every company has one. The key is leveraging the values and practices that define your company to connect with the employees who will thrive under your employment. Potential employees don’t have to be a perfect fit in every single way. As long as their core values and beliefs align, there’s a solid foundation to build on.
For instance, someone who is naturally an introvert is probably not a good fit for a firm that requires employees to make frequent presentations and cold sales calls. That’s not an ideal setting to play to their strengths. Attitudes to work and work habits are also important. If an employer requires adherence to strict work hours and job seeker is looking for flexibility, the position might not be a good fit, even if the candidate’s job skills and experience are. That said, employers should make an effort to offer an environment that accommodates a variety of personality types.
questions that help assess cultural fit
- What does your ideal workday entail?
- What type of work environment do you feel most productive in?
- What traits do you look for in a successful leader?
- When you work in a team setting, what role do you take?
- What management style do you think is most effective?
- How do you feel about making friends at work? Is it a smart practice?
- What did you like most about your previous employer?
- What are your thoughts on volunteering and charity work?
- If you could describe your ideal employer in one word, what would it be?
In the end, remember: a good cultural fit doesn’t mean conformity to a rigid set of guidelines. Allow individual employees to be different and unique, but share common goals and beliefs. Employees that work together well and whose varying strengths complement one another will make more effective teams.
All of this assumes of course, that as an employer, you remain true to your core values. If your core values are just window dressing to impress potential employees and customers, or aspirational and to be attained someday in the future, the result will be cynicism, disillusionment, and high turnover. A good cultural fit requires adherence to core values for both the employee and the employer.